Wednesday, 27 April 2011

343 Update.

Following my recent flurry of activity, I’ve managed to reduce the weight of my big three by 757g.
My shelter weight is unchanged at                                  1240g
My pack including liner has reduced by 562g to                 867g
My sleeping system has reduced by 188g to                   1377g
Big Three Total                                                               3484g

I’ve spent £148.49 on the purchase of my Golite Jam and Thermarest NeoAir to achieve this weight reduction, or to put it another way 19.7 pence per gram, . Was it worth it? I’m not sure, I‘ll be more able to tell after my next wild camping trip, which is likely to be mid May.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The NeoAir has arrived!

My NeoAir has arrived, it looks very small, but hopefully with a bit of practice I’ll be able to sleep without rolling off. It weighs 278g including the 12g stuff sack, and the pack size is truly amazing!

The photographs above show a comparison of my Thermarest sleeping mats, the green one is a Trecklite that I’ve had for years (823g), the mauve one is my Prolite (472g) and the yellow one is my Neo Air (278g).


I’m travelling to Scotland on Thursday; it’s the AAC meet (UK section of the Austrian Alpine Club) in the Cairngorms. My plans are fairly fluid at the moment, but I hope to tick off a few more peaks if the weather is good, and if not, I’ll be exploring the forestry tracks and drove roads on my mountain bike.

Monday, 25 April 2011


In the quest to reduce the weight of my “Big Three” my sleeping mat offers the second biggest chance to save weight. My current mat is a Thermarest Prolite (woman’s). I bought the woman’s version, because for the same advertised weight, it has an R-Value of 2.8 rather than the 2.2 of the men’s, it may be 6 inches shorter but that suites me fine.
To justify the cost of changing my mat, I need to save at least 150g. I’ve looked at quite a few mats and finally chosen the Thermarest NeoAir. The advertised weight for the small version is 260g which is 188g lighter than my Prolite, and if it suites Chris Townsend and Jorgan Johansson then it must be ok!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Golite Jam

As predicted my Golite Jam arrived from the The Climers Shop the next day. The changes to the hip belt; shoulder straps and back panel are quite extensive, increasing the advertised weight to 840g which from memory is around 100g heavier than the previous version. However, I was delighted to find that my Jam weighed in at 822g giving me a saving of 562g over my Lowe Alpin Snowpeak 50. Not in the league of Colin Ibbotson’s Tramplite Packs but a big step towards hitting that elusive 3 kilo’s.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

343 Conclusions

After taking a close look at the items that make up my big three, (see previous posts), I’ve decided to focus my weight saving energies, on my rucksack and sleeping mat.

At 1384g without its polythene liner, my Lowe Alpin Snowpeak 50, gives the best opportunity for a big weight saving. Searching for an alternative was initially quite difficult, as there are a bewildering number of 50 litre rucksacks available on the internet; fortunately I was able to dis-guard most of them, as either too heavy or not available in the UK. I’m really not keen to buy products that I can’t try on, so the sack must be available to view in the UK.
I then checked back issues of TGO Magazine and read various online reviews, all which pointed me towards the Golite Jam.
It’s a simple design, the quality is excellent, and it gets rave reviews from most testers. Improvements to the 2011 Jam have increased the weight to 840g, but this will save me over half a kilogramme!
The best deal I could find was £85.00 plus £3.50 postage and packing at the Climbers Shop in Ambleside, who I know from experience usually manage to deliver your goods the following working day. So I’ve placed my order, and now its time to think about sleeping mats.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

It's arrived!

My Zip-o-Gauge thermometer arrived from Needle Sports yesterday. It looks pretty good, only weighs 8g, and being bright yellow it should be hard to lose.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

My Sleeping System

My sleeping kit weighs in at 1568g; I use a Mountain Equipment Xero 550 sleeping bag, with a Jag Bag silk liner to keep the inside clean. My current mat is a Thermarest Prolite (Woman’s). The Xero 550 is packed in a 15 litre Pod lite event dry bag, and the Thermarest travels in its original stuff bag with the label removed. 
As I have a tendency to sleep fairly cold, I’m reluctant to make a costly down grade to my sleeping bag, only to find it’s not warm enough, so no changes here for the moment.
With the advance in sleeping mats over recent years, I could save some weight by replacing the Thermarest Prolite, particularly if I can get my head around using a shorter mat.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

My Pack

The rucksack I’ve used most over the past 20 years, is my Lowe Alpin Snowpeak 50, originally bought for a trip to the Alps, it’s been my companion on pretty well every trip to the mountains since then. At 1429g including the polythene liner, it provides plenty of scope for weight saving, unfortunately my search for a new pack has been hampered by the limited numbers of short back length packs on sale. I’ve tried various women’s versions of sacks but although the back length is fine, they are too narrow at the shoulder and the straps cut into my neck. I’d also like a smooth, shaped back as the more exotic shapes, particularly the ones with a foam pads in the hip area cause problems with my lower spine and sacroiliac joints.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Backpacking Thermometer

I’ve been searching for a lightweight thermometer to take backpacking for years, then a couple of days ago I spotted this picture in Ron Bloomquist’s gallery.

I contacted Ron to find out who supplied it, and following his prompt email reply I’ve managed to track one down a UK at Needle Sports.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

My Shelter.

For my shelter I use a Terra Nova Laser Comp, I’ve considered using a bivvi bag or a tarp, but as most of my wild camping is done in Scotland, I prefer the additional protection from adverse weather conditions and midges it provides.
My Laser Comp weighs 1240g; this is 206g above the delivered weight of 1034g. The extra weight comes from the changes I’ve made, which I believe were necessary to make the Laser Comp suitable for 3 season mountain use.

108g of the additional weight comes from the up rated pegs, the 2g titanium pegs supplied as standard may be great for breaking Guinness World Records, but are totally inadequate for anything other than a trial pitch in my back garden. I now use eight 13g aluminium pegs as supplied with the Terra Nova Quasar, and four 6g titanium pegs as supplied with my Terra Nova Voyager. This gives me 8 pegs to secure the fly sheet and inner, with 2 pegs for the pole hood guys and two spares. One of the spares I normally use to hold the flysheet door open when cooking or gazing at the view, the other is occasionally used to double up on one of the main pegs if the ground is suspect.

Probably the biggest gripe voiced by Laser Comp owners, is the noise produced by the flysheet when it’s windy. This can be a problem with single pole tunnel tents, but it seems to be a feature of the Laser Comp, and is exacerbated by the very thin shockcord used for the flysheet pegging loops. When the wind gusts this stretches excessively, it may protect the lightweight fabric and stitching from damage but at the expense of a good set to the tent, and a noisy thrashing flysheet which can often touch the inner tent. A number of people have used Dyneema guy line cord as a replacement but I finally decided on larger diameter shockcord from my local boat yard. This mod does have a weight penalty of 34g but has significantly cut down on flysheet flap, there are fewer creases when pitching, but the shock cord will still stretch when it’s windy, hopefully enough to protection the construction of the tent.

The zip sliders on the Laser Comp are quite difficult to grasp, particularly with cold fingers, so I’ve added Dyneema pull cords which do add a couple of grammes but make life a lot easier.

Finally when camping, I always use tent footprint to protect the groundsheet from sharp stones and mud. Obviously 500 guage polythene at 300g for a Laser Comp sized footprint is not an option for wild camping, but at 66g I feel my homemade footprint produced by remodelling a green dustbin liner is worth the additional weight.

So for the moment my Shelter weight must remain at 1240 grams.

What next?

Reading Smarter Backpacking by Jorgen Johansson, has made me realise I need to make drastic changes to my gear if I’m going to a get below the weight plateau, I seem to have reached. Tinkering with the odd few grams here and there isn’t going to make a big difference, what I need to do is re-examine the three big ones and see where the excess weight is hiding.